College Football: Preseason Top 10...Camp Edition
With top tier programs such as Alabama and Florida opening camp today, I thought it was time to dissect 2010 season.
The Crimson Tide look to become the first team to repeat as BCS National Champions. Expect head coach Nick Saban to keep his team extremely focused throughout the year and push the agent distractions away from the program. Barring interruptions, expect the Crimson Tide to be playing in January.
If you are NOT a fan of the BCS, this is the year that it could vanish from college football. I'm talking the underdog, the mid-major, the non-power conference team. We have seen non-BCS schools such as Utah and Boise State challenge the system in the past, running the tables but not able to compete for a national championship. It is hard for mid-major schools to jump up into the polls because they are usually playing inferior teams and ranked too low in the preseason polls. However, Boise State and TCU are looking at preseason top 8 rankings. If they run the table, get to the national championship and win, expect a new way in determining a national champion to come about sooner rather than later.
Here's a look at my preseason top 10 for the 2010 College Football season.
15. Pittsburgh Panthers: After a breakout season last year, Dave Wannstedt will look to build a 10-win team into a BCS bowl contender as the favorites to win the Big East. Expect Sophomore RB Dion Lewis and Junior WR Jonathon Baldwin to put up All-American numbers.
14. USC: The Trojans will not be bowl eligible for the next two years because of Reggie Bush. However, expect Lane Kiffin and Sophomore QB Matt Barkley to use this as motivation and compete with Oregon in the PAC 10.
13. Arkansas: This may be considered too high for the Razorbacks, but QB Ryan Mallett is the real deal. If you haven't heard much about him, imagine a more accurate JaMarcus Russell! We will see if he really is the real deal when they meet with Alabama during conference play.
12. Oklahoma: When three of the top four picks in 2010 NFL Draft were Sooners, people might right you off for a rebuilding year. However, Oklahoma is one of the few programs that doesn't rebuild but reload. Sophomore QB Landry Jones got valuable experience last year when #1 overall pick Sam Bradford was injured. Expect Jones, Senior RB DeMarco Murray and Junior LB Travis Lewis to help the Sooners make another run at the Big 12 Title.
11. Iowa: Most of the key players return from an Orange Bowl victory. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz also has the blessing of playing Ohio State and Penn State in Iowa City this year.
10. Miami Hurricanes
Junior QB Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes are coming closer and closer each year to returning to the "glory days" of the 1980's and early 2000's. Their offense is stacked with Three #1 WR's in Leonard Hankerson, LaRon Byrd, and Travis Benjamin. They also return nine starters on defense.
It all depends on the growth and maturity on Harris. If he becomes the Heisman hopeful that people expect him to be, don't be surprised if Miami is knocking at the door to play for a National Championship at the end of the season. Head Coach Randy Shannon has brought the U back!
9. Virginia Tech Hokies
Senior QB Tyrod Taylor will try to battle off the Hurricanes for the ACC Championship. The dual-threat QB will have help from the second-best RB tandem in the country in Sophomores Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. In 2008, Evans rushed for 1,261 yards as a freshman. After tearing his ACL before the 2009 season,the freshmen Williams took his place and rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns! The defense is returning only five starters, but head coach Frank Beamer will put together a defense that will allow them outscore opponents.
For all you VT fans, I know that other analysts have put the Hokies as high as #3 in their preseason polls, but I feel that they always lose really early in the season and are unable to crawl back in the BCS conversation. They play Boise State right away. Will their early loss streak continue again?
8. Oregon Ducks
If Jeremiah Masoli hadn't stolen laptops from a frat house, this team would be ranked in the top 5 and contending for a national championship. Oregon still has a lot of talent, especially Sophomore RB LaMichael James. The Heisman candidate is suspended for the first game, but will have to carry the load when he comes back. If this team wants to win the PAC-12 again over USC and Oregon State, head coach Chip Kelley must be the coach of the year again to keep this team on the right path.
7. Florida Gators
No offense, but I am glad that the Tebow era at Florida is over. Junior QB John Brantley will now take the reigns as the leader of the Gators. He is more of pocket passer than Tebow, so expect the offense to look a lot different. Until Brantley becomes confident in the system, expect the running back committee led by Jeffery Demps to be the primary offensive focus this season.
Most people say that Florida is the only thing in Alabama's way in going into the SEC Championship Game undefeated. If head coach Urban Meyer and the Gators are able to pull off the upset, expect the Gator Dynasty talks to continue.
6. TCU Horned Frogs
Seven players return to last years number one defense. Potential All-Americans in LB Tank Carder and S Tejay Johnson will continue to keep TCU as a tough, defensive-minded squad. Senior QB Andy Dalton and RB Joseph Turner will create a balanced attack on offense and will put enough points up to win every game this season.
IF Boise State loses to VA Tech in the early season, root for the Horned Frogs to take down the BCS.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Three years ago, a top QB prospect in high school named Blaine Gabbert was planning on going to Nebraska. However, he switched his commitment late in the recruiting process and went to Missouri instead. As a Sophomore last year, Gabbert threw for 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns. If he was playing in Lincoln last year, the Cornhuskers would have won the National Championship and would be the preseason favorites to win it again.
Back to Reality, it is fair to say that the QB position is the weakest spot on Huskers team. Senior QB Zak Lee and Sophomore QB Cody Green will battle for the position to manage the offense with an already solid running game. But in Lincoln, it is all about the defense.
The loss of Ndamukong Suh will be a huge blow. It will be nearly impossible to replace the best college football player in the country. However, head coach Bo Pelini will use his master techniques on defense to return them back on top. Junior DT Jared Crick and CB Prince Amukamura are future first round picks next year and will have to replace Suh's defensive prescience. If they beat Texas in Lincoln, national title talks will keep getting louder and louder.
4. Texas Longhorns
With the first pick in 2012 NFL Draft, the ______________ ________________ select Garrett Gilbert from the University of Texas.
You may have lost Colt McCoy Texas fans, but I'm pretty sure he was replaced with the next Brett Favre. Gilbert played well in the National Championship game when McCoy was injured. With seven defensive starters returning, head coach Mack Brown will reload and contend for another national championship.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Many believe that the Heisman front-runner Terrelle Pryor is now ready to show his full potential and lead THE Ohio State Buckeyes back to promise land. He will be asked to do too much again like last year. Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine will help Pryor in the running game.
It all depends on Pryor. If he can turn into the Michael Vick/Vince Young type people expect him to be, you will see the Buckeyes lifting the national championship in January.
2. Boise State Broncos
Boise State returns twenty-one starters from an undefeated season last year (Kyle Wilson was drafted by the Jets in the first round). Junior QB Kellen Moore has only lost one game in two years as a starter. As a Heisman candidate, Moore will have to put up gaudy numbers as well as beat the Hokies in Washington D.C. early in the season. If they beat Virginia Tech, they will run through the rest of the schedule and be in the national championship game. They will most likely meet...
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Roll Tide Roll!
Like them or not, they have to come back as the favorites to repeat as national champions. Last year, their defense and running game helped them win. This year, the defense might be a liability. They only return 2 starters on defense. Luckily, one of those players is Marcel Dareus. Dareus will be the top defensive player this year (if he is eligible) and will be the first defensive player taken in the draft next year.
Returning the reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram will also be a key for this team. I don't believe he will win it again because his back-up Trent Richardson is too good to be on the bench. Personally, I think Richardson is already better than Ingram. Senior QB Greg Mcelroy and Junior WR Julio Jones will create one of the best tandems in the country.
If Nick Saban can put together a top 50 defense, their is no doubt in my mind that the Crimson Tide will repeat. Their offense will be simply too good to stop.